Friday, January 21, 2022

From Small Beginnings Virtual Book Tour




 

Children's book

Date Published: December 1, 2021


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Great things come from small beginnings, and GREAT you are indeed.



About The Author

Stephanie Trachier Laskoskie was born and raised in Texas. She is a proud mother of four, author of the international best seller "My Baby is a Superhero!" and runs a NICU support organization called From Small Beginnings.

In 2016, her life was turned upside down when her twins were born at 23 weeks 2 days gestation. Thanks to the incredible care received, her twins beat all odds and were able to come home together after 151 days in the NICU.

Her parents were both educators and books, specifically children's books, were always a huge part of her life. This experience with her own children fueled her passion to write children's books that were tailored to the NICU experience, not just for the baby but for the siblings and family. Proceeds from her books have been used to create NICU sibling care packages that have supported thousands of NICU families during their most difficult days.


Contact Links

Website

Instagram

Facebook


Purchase Link

Amazon

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway
RABT Book Tours & PR

If They Can't Kiss Right Blog Tour


 

Online dating is a headache, live vicariously through someone else’s experiences to make yourself feel better…



By Shannon Yingst

IF THEY CAN'T KISS RIGHT: SURVIVING ONLINE DATING, Creative Nonfiction, Tyburn Hill Media Co., 150 pp.




Online dating: the new way of life. It seems like the only logical way to meet people anymore. The rest of our lives are on the internet, so why not our love lives too? Because if you wait for your friends to set you up, you’ll only be disappointed with their choice of Roger from accounting, the epitome of mouth breathing, booger eating morons.

Fortunately, there are no Rogers from accounting in this tale. There are, however, many other bad choices. But along the way, I learned what I want, and what I don’t want in a relationship. I learned good qualities to seek and bad qualities to leave behind. I also learned a lot about myself in the process, too. The biggest gain I got from my foray into online dating, though? Writing this book and passing along some of the life lessons I discovered through a painful trial-and-error process.

If you think your dating life is bad, take a gander at mine. Relive the awkward moments, soak in the unnecessary drama, and don’t forget to learn a thing or two. Men and women alike will be able to read this and take-home solid dating advice for the future.

Laugh. Learn. Love. Question why some humans are so insane. Maybe even see yourself in some of the pages. But above all, take to heart all the things I figured out along the way. It’ll save you the heartache and trouble. Trust me.





Chapter 1: Oceans Away

I spent three years of my life in a negative relationship with a man that lived over three thousand miles away, in the UK. Miles and miles of ocean and land separated us, but I thought he was the only man that would ever love me.

            Always the fat girl in class, my life revolved more around making others laugh rather than pursuing crushes. That is not to say I didn't try chasing them anyway. I knew the outcome, though: the boys always liked the other girls, the skinny girls. Me? I was the ‘fun friend’. My yearbooks are filled with homages to my sense of humor and even sometimes to my friendly nature. Other girls were told to call the boys over the summer, reminded of their beauty, and endlessly complimented. My sense of humor was about all anyone ever noticed about me.

            "Am I ugly?" I would ask close friends. No matter what age, I always got the same answer in some form or another.

            "Don't be ridiculous. You're really funny and that counts for a lot." They would smile wide with kind eyes, avoiding mine. My question never directly answered. I began to think this was all for me – humor. My only redeeming quality. I would never be ‘pretty’ in a conventional sense.

            Now this isn't to say that beauty and boys are everything in life. I can guarantee you that they will never be everything in your life. They aren’t in mine. They are a side mission, not a main quest. However, I wanted nothing more than to find a man to join my story, to build along with me. I think we all want someone with whom to share our journey.

Right now, you’re reading this book for one of three reasons. Reason A: the humor in which each story unfolds - a good laugh is great for your skin* (*not medically proven.) Reason B: you want to avoid some of the same speed bumps I hit and save your sanity. Reason C: you want to see if our stories match and make sure everything is going as normal as possible. Relatively speaking. I don’t really mind whichever reason it is, but I do hope you gain something from my tale, and my sage wisdom. That being said, let me take you back to where this all started.

Desperate to fill that superficial abyss, I landed with the man from England.  

            We agreed that we would never see other people. We agreed it was a real relationship, despite only seeing each other twice a year, during my Christmas break from college and in the summer after school ended. He could easily get time off work, and spent most, if not all of it, with me. Looking back now, I'm not sure if it was selfish of me to take all his vacation time. Of course, he never let me forget how much it cost his wallet. Never mind that I worked all summer long and was barely able to afford my trip to him come December.

            Yet, no matter what, no matter how much each of us spent, it was never enough. The heartbreak we had to suffer each time the trip came to a close was immensely painful. It was like taking down decorations after a holiday: you're happy to get back to normal life, but some of the flair is missing and you feel it every day it's gone. Except with the relationship, things never went back to that sense of normalcy. It just got harder as the days went.

            The drives back to the airport were always quiet. Our last moments together for months and we spent them in silence with the occasional sniffle as we held back tears. The last time we were together (before we decided on a major change), I couldn't stop crying. I held onto him in the airport and repeated the same sentence over and over for five minutes straight.

            "I don't want to leave you," my voice whimpered between chest-deflating sobs. He would rub my back and rest his cheek on the top of my head cooing a shush. His tears hit my hair faster than my tears soaked his shirt. Maybe we both knew it was the end for us. There had to be something in us knowing we would never do this again. The painful goodbyes were over. We would never watch each other walk away into the long airport security lines again.

            "Hey, look at me. The next time you're on a plane here will be the last time you fly alone. Next time, I'll be with you. And every time after that. It will be us. Together." He kept his words hushed. Not because he didn't want anyone else to hear, but because he was doing his damn best to soothe my blubbering self. I nodded, wiping tears off my red-blotched cheeks. My hand gripped the handle of my suitcase and I felt the heaves within my chest slow. That was the last time I was truly in his arms. The last time the emotion had any real meaning. It was mere weeks later it ended.

            After that big change I mentioned.

            I had planned to leave behind the United States to be with him in England. My family, friends, my entire life would change in order to be with this man I had fought with more times than dreams of him filled my mind. Ironically, I often made up dreams to tell him because he would tell me about ones he had involving me. My mind wandered during the day, but come night, my subconscious never even bothered. I had more dreams about hockey players that I'd never met as opposed to the man I planned on spending the rest of my life loving. That probably should have hit me like a ton of bricks, but it didn't. In the end, it came down to one mistake. That one mistake showed me everything I overlooked. Everything I pushed aside because I thought he was it, my only one. 

            In our last seven weeks together, we tested everything we knew about being in a relationship. We never spent more than three weeks together at a time over our three year stint. Yet here we were, getting ready to be together for a large block of time. He was in America for two weeks to see me graduate from college, and then I flew back with him to spend five weeks in England. And if that went well, it was going to be forever.

My time staying with him was amazing at first. He would wake up and kiss me goodbye as he left for work. I would have dinner ready for when he got home. Minus the night his roommate told me the cooktop was on low when it was actually on high and it burnt the meatballs beyond recognition. Everything seemed perfect.

            But, as everyone knows, perfect can't last.

            We began fighting. Stupid, pointless, absurd fights. One night he was in his kitchen, running around trying to make a nice dinner for the two of us. He was sweating and overwhelmed. When I offered help, he took it, but criticized every single thing I did.

            "Can you knock it the fuck off?" My voice was straight and low, my hands steady on the knife and cutting board.

            "I just want the carrots cut thicker." His jaw was squared, eyebrows furrowed.

            "There isn't enough time to have thick-cut carrots cook. We need them thin because everything else is already done. I'm not an idiot, I can cut carrots." My eyes closed, but I still could feel the heat in the kitchen adding to my already boiling blood.

            "I don't want thin carrots."

            "Well I'm not waiting all day for thick carrots to cook."

            "Then get out of the kitchen." He took the carrots off the cutting board and waited for me to leave. I went upstairs to his room and sat on the bed staring out the window. An hour later, he came into the room slowly and placed a plate down in front of me on the bed before turning on the TV. I heard his fork hit the plate and then he started chewing with his mouth open. A habit I hadn't noticed before spending that kind of time together, but it grew more and more annoying each day. I think he picked it up from his roommate because I didn't remember this habit when we were first together.

Maybe I was blissfully unaware before, and now was slowly falling out of love. Maybe the fight just opened my eyes a little wider to all the flaws. Either way, there they were, on display. Crowned by that horrible smacking of open-mouth chewing. And don’t tell me the sound of a human chewing like a cow is sweet and endearing. Because it’s not. At least to me. After a few minutes, he stopped and angrily sighed. "Aren't you going to eat? I cooked a nice meal."

            "I'm not hungry, thanks."

            "Are you fucking kidding me?" The bed shook as he stood in a huff. He threw his fork onto the plate with a loud clink. I saw his hand reach over and snatch the plate from in front of me and, in a blur, threw it behind me into the trash can with such force that it broke into a ton of pieces. Food and broken plate scattered all around, and a few bit even landed in the trashcan. He stormed off with his plate and didn't come back to the room until I had fallen asleep, and was gone by the time I woke up the next morning.

            It was that night and the following night I was so upset that I forgot to take my birth control. That second night without birth control, we also had sex. I was still upset, but wanted to make him happy, so I pretended to be okay. Unfortunately, we had decided not to use condoms anymore. We were in a committed relationship, both clean…and both so stupid. He told me that condoms hurt him and made it harder for him to stay erect. I foolishly let him go without one. Yet when the pregnancy scare happened, all of the blame went to me. He only had one thing to say about the whole thing.

            "You have three choices: keep it, abort it, or give it away. I'm not comfortable giving it away and we can't be together if you keep it." So, only one choice, really. He offered no support, no kind words, nothing to help me feel less trapped. He blamed sleepless nights on me and piled all of his stress on this accident. It wasn't a mistake we both were in together, it was all on my shoulders. He started ignoring me. Days would pass without him even sending a smile. 

            When I found out I wasn't pregnant, it was the beginning of the end. Nothing ever felt the same after that. Eventually I told him I wasn't moving to the UK. I couldn't. Not if he was going to blame me for every mishap, isolate me, and make me feel like nothing more than a mistake. There was nowhere I could go, no friends or family to rely on if he were to tear me down like that again. After I told him all of this, all of the empty feelings and worry I had about moving there to be with him, about how I didn't think I could do it, he responded with, "Okay, it's over."

            I've had problems with self esteem my entire life from being overweight. It affected me in ways you could never imagine. As I write this sentence now, I feel the dread of a ‘not good enough’ mental breakdown creeping up. It always lurks in the back of my mind, waiting for the perfect time to leap and sink into the depths of my heart where no daylight can get, no matter how bright it shines. I end up drowning in the warm sunlight while my still beating heart continues to pump cold thoughts. Never good enough is not a good slogan for yourself.

You are always good enough. Always. I promise.

            It was only a week after getting back to the States when I wanted to see what was out there for me, for an overweight twenty-something. It hit me hard, the idea that guys could still like me despite the way I look. Despite my weight, despite my less-than-average face. Despite that, and despite my own person reservations, I am considered desirable. Maybe not as much as other women, but enough to get me laid. Apparently. 

            However, time for a 180 as I turn this sob story into a continuous ‘what the fuck’ moment.

            Let me show you the world of dating apps and what actually happens when people say ‘I totally want to date’ and then live on that lie for months while they awkwardly spend time and money on someone for an entirely too expensive, and mediocre, fuck.

            It's really not as glamorous as movies and TV make it out to be. It's mostly a lot of ‘what do I do now’ moments, followed by naked escapades, and confused drives home where you laugh out loud at yourself with a little bit of crying. Or maybe a lot of crying. It all depends, you know?

            Here is where I beg any family members to stop reading. Seriously. Please.

            To the rest of you: join me. Marvel in my disasters. Take notes. I have plenty of excuses for getting out of bad dates, examples of what not to do, and little tidbits of life advice I'm sure you'll want to take along with you in your pocket right next to your condom. Don't do everything I did. Or do, I'm not your mother. Maybe by the end of this, you'll feel like an amazing person with new found confidence gained from reading about how I found confidence. Or you gained it because you feel better than me after all my stupid mistakes. Either way, congrats!

            Disclaimer: The rest of these pages contain copious amounts of profanity, crass behavior, and graphic descriptions of sex. I’m not going to apologize if you get offended, but I did warn you.











BUYING INFORMATION




is available at:





Shannon Yingst
 is a woman with dreams far beyond her reach. Not because she isn’t ambitious, but because she is short, and her dreams are on the high shelves. On her tip toes reaching for those dusty aspirations, she hopes to achieve the daunting task of entertaining the masses with the written word. Shannon likes to write while listening to Star Wars soundtracks, stand outside while it snows, and get confused playing board games. She would love to spend her days reading on the beach with a waiter bringing her frozen margaritas and snacks as the sun moves about the sky, but for now, she will continue to work at her desk in Jersey.

If They Can’t Kiss Right: Surviving Online Dating is her latest book.

You can visit her blog at https://waitstophelp.blogspot.com/ or connect with her on Twitter.








Sponsored By:

THE MISTLETOE CONTRACT Blurb Blitz


The Mistletoe Contract

by Jennifer Chastain


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GENRE:   Contemporary Christian Romance


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BLURB:


He needs a wife. She needs money. Is their modern-day marriage an answer to their prayers or a disaster waiting to happen?

Confirmed bachelor, Nathan Rutledge shut his heart to romance when he was forced to break the heart of the only woman he ever truly loved. Now, with his father’s retirement from the family conglomerate, the torch has been passed to him. But there are two problems—first, he needs a wife in order to take over the family business. Second, someone has been embezzling company funds. With the pressure mounting, and time expiring to find both a wife he can trust and the thief, Nate needs a Christmas miracle.

Forensic Accountant, Meredith Mitchell’s life is in a shambles. Her mother needs a lifesaving transplant, Mom’s medical bills have bankrupted Meredith’s meager savings, and she’s sold everything of value, but it’s still not enough. To make matters worse, she’s now tasked with discovering accounting errors for a new client—none other than Nathan Rutledge—the same man who gave her a broken heart for Christmas eight years ago.  

Meredith wants to run. Nate wants the chance to right his wrongs. So, naturally, when he proposes a modern-day marriage of convenience, she balks at the idea. But he desperately needs a wife, and she really needs the money he offers. Is this the answer to her prayers? Or will this mutually beneficial arrangement re-open old wounds that can’t be healed? 


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EXCERPT:


“Penny for your thoughts?” 


Meredith’s eyes popped open. “Nate! You scared me!” Facing off with her fiancé, she straightened her spine. “What’re you doing here?” 


His back against the wall, he crossed his ankles. Even after working all day, Nate still appeared fresh. When she glanced at her gray dress pants, the red sauce stain from her rushed dinner glared at her. She was wrinkly… and frumpy. 


Nate frowned, his gaze roving over her. 


Meredith moved her purse from her shoulder and held it in front of the stain. “I’m sorry. That was unkind.” 


“I didn’t mean to intrude.” 


She pulled herself up to her full height. “You didn’t. It’s… I didn’t expect to see you.” At least, not until their wedding day, giving her a couple of days to steel her emotions against his all-American boy-next-door charm. Why did he have to ruin her well-thought-out plan? His nearness sent her pulse into overdrive. 


Nate turned toward her and rested one hand on the wall above her head. He was so close she saw the golden flecks ringing his pupils. “Can’t a guy see his fiancée before the wedding?” The low timbre of Nate’s voice raised goose bumps on her arms, and her heart rate kicked up another notch. 


Butterflies fluttered in her stomach, and she licked her dry lips before her gaze settled on his mouth. “Yeah, sure.” 


Nate’s free hand came up and traced a line down her cheek. Meredith closed her eyes. 



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AUTHOR Bio and Links:


Jennifer Chastain is a member of ACFW, ACFW-NC, and My Book Therapy/Novel Academy. Several of her other stories were finalists in the Blue Ridge Mountains Foundations contest and she was a finalist in the Touched by Love contest, sponsored by the Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers. Her contemporary romance stories contain the themes of redemption, grace, and forgiveness.   

 

A hopeful romantic, Jennifer loves dark chocolate, Diet Coke, old movies and a good romantic movie. She loves to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen and when not cooking, she’s reading or conducting more research for her stories. Growing up in the snowy North, Christmas has always been her favorite holiday, with the scents of cinnamon, vanilla, and pine scenting the air.  

 

She and her husband have been married for over 25 years and they are permitted to co-exist with their black rescue cat. 


Author Links:

Newsletter Sign-up with Free Short Story: Jennifer Chastain Newsletter

The Mistletoe Contract – Amazon link

Website: https://jenniferchastain.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferChastain.writer

Instagram: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferChastain.writer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferCwrites


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GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE:


Jennifer Chastain will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

The Kayla Walsh Trilogy Tour and Giveaway

 


Nowhere To Hide

Kayla Walsh Trilogy Book 1

by Karen Randau

Genre: Mystery, Suspense 


A young woman embarks on a dangerous journey to bring a killer to justice.

Kayla is newly-engaged and excited to break the news to her parents during a visit for winter break before her final semester at Princeton. As she enters her family’s living room, a home invader shatters her life forever, ruthlessly killing her parents and putting her in a coma.

Two years later, she still remembers nothing of the attack, just that she kissed her fiancé goodbye before opening her family’s front door. Her fiancé thinks she’s dead and has moved on.

A suspicious house fire convinces Kayla it’s time to dump her witness protection program to embark on a dangerous quest to bring the murderer to justice. She and her best friend Martin follow clues that take them from the mountains of Arizona to Washington, D.C., straight into the killer’s lair. Will Kayla succeed in her quest, or will she and Martin fall victim to the ruthless assassin who stole everything Kayla loved?

Nowhere to Hide is the explosive first book in the Kayla Walsh Mystery Suspense trilogy. This fast-paced read is one you won’t want to put down from beginning to end. If you like the suspense of Willow Rose and the plot twists of Kendra Elliot, you will love Karen Randau’s clever, nail-biting Kayla Walsh series.

Get Nowhere to Hide now to meet Kayla and her gang of quirky characters.


Goodreads * Amazon

Kendra McGee wouldn’t have entered her family’s home if she’d paid attention to the sound of a gate closing nearby, or if she hadn’t discounted the shadow that briefly appeared then ducked back into the darkness. She was too focused on her fiancé as he kissed her goodbye in the dim glow of the living room light shining out the window.

“See you tomorrow,” he whispered. 

Her heart was so full of love she thought it might burst. Sounds, shadows, and the possibility of danger were the furthest things from her mind. All she saw was Brandon and the romantic glow the inside lights threw onto the dusting of snow coating Dad’s prized flower beds.

She ignored her father’s muffled voice inside the two-story home where she’d grown up. 

When the living room light went out, Brandon pulled her into his arms and whispered, “Aww, wasn’t it nice of your parents to give us privacy before we separate for a whole day?” He gave her a passionate kiss that made her tingle all over. 

“I’ll miss you.” She skimmed her hand across his cheek.

He cupped her face with his cold hands, gazing into her eyes with his that went from hazel to green to brown, depending upon his mood. They darkened as he leaned down to kiss her again. When he pulled away, he let her shiny black hair cascade through his fingers. “I love you.” 

He backed down the steps to the sidewalk and blew her a kiss with both hands. He was so dramatic, part of what she loved about him. She hoped he’d keep that characteristic after they married and opened their medical practice together.

As she watched his taillights disappear around the corner, she touched her lips and closed her eyes to savor the memory of his tingle-producing kiss. With a sigh, she gazed at the Christmas lights up and down the street. They made coming home from Princeton for winter break feel magical. 

This was going to be a good visit. Mom and Dad would be so excited when she showed them the ring Brandon had given her.

Dad groaned inside the house. She wondered if he’d cut himself while serving the apple pie, a tasty ritual her parents had devised for the monthly return of their only child. With a smile and a carefree hum on her lips, she turned to the door.

Despite being twenty-two and about to become a med student, she loved everything about coming home. The violet walls of her childhood bedroom. Cooking fancy meals or shopping with Mom. Gardening or some other project with Dad. It was even better when Nana, Dad’s fun-loving Irish mother, joined them for church, camping, or a night on the town. She wished with a twinge of grief that Mom’s Cherokee mother wasn’t too sick to visit anymore.

She dug through her purse for the house key, grumbling to herself when she couldn’t find it. They must have known she was home since they turned out the light. She tried the knob. 

Given the paranoia that had plagued her parents through the last few years, it should have alarmed her that the handle turned easily. Instead, a spark of anticipation put another smile on her lips and made her mouth water at the thought of the dessert awaiting her. 

When she pushed the door open, the kitchen light threw two strange silhouettes against the wall in the dining…

It took a moment to realize the heap under the table was her father. She dropped her purse, suitcase, and coat and took three steps forward. He reached toward her. “Kendra, no.” His arm flopped down. His voice was so weak it scared her.

“Dad?” She looked around. “Mom?” She started to run to her father, but he rasped, “Kendra, no.”

The curtain on the kitchen door swayed, bringing her attention to a handprint near the knob. Blood? A stranger pushed the door open, and a beam from the kitchen cast an eerie glow on his dark goatee but not the rest of him. 

As he took a step forward, the stranger yelled Dad’s name. “Kevin!” He faltered when he looked to the kitchen. “Oh, my God, Inola.” Anguish filled his moan as he said her mother’s name.

“Kendra eef run!” Dad coughed, then a gunshot from the kitchen silenced her father forever.

She turned to run from the goatee man but hesitated when she heard a second gunshot. Glancing back, she saw the man stumble toward Dad while holding his shoulder. Blood oozed between his fingers. With the blast of a third gunshot, the man fell across Dad. She didn’t have time to wonder if he was dead or who he was.

She may have screamed. The only thing she was certain of was that she needed to get out of there and get her cell phone out of her back pocket to call the police.

A man in a ski mask rushed from the kitchen toward her. She tripped over Mom’s slipper, fell onto Dad’s ottoman, and scampered toward the door on her hands and feet. He picked her up by a belt loop and the back of her sweater. 

“Sorry, kid, you weren’t the target.” The voice was more of an angry, throaty hiss than an apology. He grunted as he heaved her out the front window pane. 





No One To Trust

Kayla Walsh Trilogy Book 2


She thought she could trust him. Until she became his prey.

Devastated when she learns why and how a brutal home invader murdered her parents, Kayla and her best friend Martin follow clues through Paris and into the French countryside — only to end up in the killer's lair.

After tracking a clue to a mysteriously familiar French rural town, Kayla and Martin fight an attacker who launches Martin from a speeding train. Kayla refuses to believe he's dead and in her grieving realizes that he's become much more than a friend to her. But she knows she'll be the next to die if she gets caught at the train station, so she runs. And she keeps running, at last finding refuge in a homeless community.

Her new friends help her escape, but when she follows yet another clue, she runs straight into the grips of men who have chased her down since she left her home in Arizona.

Can Kayla and Martin survive their misplaced trust, or will they become the next victims? And will their love survive with them?

No One to Trust is the bone-chilling Book 2 in the Kayla Walsh Mystery Suspense series. Buy it now to learn Kayla and Martin's fate.


Goodreads * Amazon

Kayla Walsh had never expected to leave the safety of witness protection to end up in an abandoned Virginia missile silo. But here she was, following her grandmother’s silver-haired boyfriend, Vincent, through a cold and musty underground parking lot.

Her best friend and former physical therapist, Martin, touched her arm. Walking behind Vincent, he leaned down to whisper in Kayla’s ear. “Are you sure about this? I’m getting bad vibes.”

She raked her fingers through her short, black hair and whispered, “You could go back home to Arizona.” She looked up into the dark eyes above Martin’s wide nose. She hoped he wouldn’t abandon her to finish their mission alone.

He swallowed hard and shook his head. “We’re in this together.”

Vincent stopped at an elevator and turned toward his guests with a smile that deepened the dimples in his cheeks. His blue eyes sparkled with pride as he pressed the call button.

Martin stopped beside Vincent under a light that reflected off his shaved head and gave his ebony skin a green tone.

She stared at a logo on the doors that identified Vincent’s operation as a security business.

“I thought my grandmother said you were a rancher.”

“I have several businesses, dear.” Vincent entered the elevator. “My grandson runs the ranch. At my age, this business is easier on my tired muscles and bones.” He stepped into the elevator and waited for them to join him.

She tried to smile while clinging to a handrail during a high-speed descent farther underground. The sleep-deprived fog in her brain took her thoughts in a morbid direction. The tremble in her knees threatened to reveal her discomfort. Hoping to tamp down her growing unease, she bit the side of her mouth and supported herself against the wall.

“I’m looking forward to sleeping on the plane.” She hoped the words would coax her thoughts away from what brought her to this refurbished missile silo. After being chased down a dirt road by two guys who kept yelling things she couldn’t hear, a magnet attached to a helicopter had whisked her car to a metal platform. Her stomach stayed behind when the platform swished down to a parking lot where Vincent met them.

“I could use a nap, too.” A wobble in Martin’s unusually quiet voice worried her.

The elevator door opened to another hallway with concrete walls lit by more sconces. A man in tight jeans and black-framed glasses waited for them outside the elevator. Vincent introduced him as his assistant, Alex, who extended a hand as cold as Kayla’s insides.

She wondered if Alex’s administrative duties bored him as much as hers did when she worked for her grandmother at the Arizona home for abused women and children.

Vincent put a hand on Martin’s shoulder. “Kayla told me last night that your attacker at the Lincoln Memorial tried to slice your throat. Our nurse practitioner is waiting to treat the wound. Alex will take you.”

Alex led Martin down another hallway.

Vincent, all six-foot-two of him, turned to Kayla. “Your grandmother wants to talk to you before we leave for Paris. We have a guest room where you can freshen up and make the call.”

He led Kayla into a brighter hallway with windows and doors on both sides. Men and women in casual clothes tapped on computer keyboards or talked on phones. A group of six discussed a strange drawing on a white board—boxes, circles, and triangles connected by lines. 

No one looked up as Vincent and Kayla passed.

She stepped around the door he held open and surveyed the room. It contained a twin bed covered with a beige comforter, and a sink against a green wall, with a mirror over it that was flanked by a hand towel on one side, and a hair dryer dangling from a hook on the opposite side. To the left of the sink was a toilet, and a tiny square shower stall took up a corner on the right.

He gestured toward the black phone on the nightstand. “To call your grandmother, dial nine. You’ll hear a buzz, then dial her number. When you’re done, open the door. I’ll be right outside.”

He closed the door, but she imagined his presence behind it.

She sat on the bed, wondering if someone would listen to her call. Her grandmother had told her to trust Vincent, but given everything that had happened in the last two weeks, trust was in short supply.


Nothing To Lose

Kayla Walsh Trilogy Book 3


He stalks her wherever she goes, but can she afford not to continue the search?

On the final leg of her journey to deliver justice to the home invader to killed her parents and put her in a coma, Kayla arrives in Australia under duress. She knows who killed her parents and why, and now she fears he'll get to her, her grandmother, and Martin before she's able to find the priceless gem he claims her parents stole. But she knows better.

What she finds in Australia cringes her, but will it gives her the evidence she needs to take down her stalker? It provides yet another clue that takes her back to the U.S.

But will she get there in time to save herself, her grandmother, and the man she loves?

To find out, buy this bone-chilling final installment, book 3 in the Kayla Walsh Mystery Suspense trilogy.


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Twenty-four-year-old Kayla Walsh stood on the yawning metal ramp of a cargo plane, awed by the clear blue Indian Ocean and cloudless sky in Broome, Australia. Ignoring the conversation between the pilot and her traveling companion Yves, she breathed in the hot, salty air that blasted her face.

During her previous visit here six years earlier, her late mother had described the first impression of Broome as opening the door of a convection oven and leaning in too far. That was accurate, plus, thinking of her mother put a brief smile on her face. 

Unlike her arrival with her parents in a passenger plane on the last leg of that summer vacation, she had just endured two days on two different cargo planes. She and Yves had boarded one in Austria, then got off to change planes in Bangkok, where they had been able to purchase a sandwich and water before boarding the next cargo plane, belonging to the owners of a diamond mine. That had been their only meal along the way, and her stomach was now rumbling. 

In contrast to that trip with her parents, this wasn’t a vacation. 

Yves and Vincent—the man Kayla was sure had murdered her parents and put her in a year-long coma—believed Mom and Dad had hidden a priceless diamond in Australia. A diamond Vincent claimed her parents stole from the Louvre in Paris, but that should have been his. Kayla refused to believe that her parents, Inola and Kevin McGee, would have done that, especially with their teenaged daughter present.

That vacation seemed like a ridiculously long time ago, when life was carefree. She had been engaged to a fellow med student, and her name was Kendra McGee—before the home invasion that changed her life forever and put her in witness protection. Turned out it wasn’t witness protection at all. It was Vincent deceiving her grandmother so he could control and keep track of them. 

Kayla heaved a sigh, ready to head to the diamond mine, retrieve the diamond, and catch the next commercial flight back to the States. Back to Martin, who had been her physical therapist before becoming the best friend who had undertaken this arduous journey across three continents, in search of a diamond Vincent insisted belonged to him. She hoped that finding the diamond would finally bring her back to the normal life she craved. 

Martin’s kind, gentle spirit had captured her heart during the past few weeks, and they had confessed their love for each other. Now he was convalescing in a Paris hospital. She’d hated to leave him behind as she completed her task, but his injuries had been too extensive to allow him to travel. 

The diamond mine they were headed to used to be owned by the family of Lucas, Yves’s business partner.  The two men claimed to have been friends with Kayla’s parents many years ago and had been entrusted with their safe word.

Despite Yves knowing her childhood safe word, she felt unable to trust him because of the way they had approached her.

They’d used a sedative to force her to leave Martin behind, but it had given her disturbing dreams. At the same time, it had caused her to finally remember the attack that had left her parents dead. Those memories prompted as many questions as they answered.

Then there were the stories Yves had told during the flights to Australia. They had pierced her heart and drained her hope of getting justice for her murdered parents. She had to find the Rose Diamond to save herself, her grandmother, and Martin. 

Despite the hot Australia day, she shuddered at the memory of the blast of cold that had ripped through the light fabric of her summer clothes back in Austria. A helicopter had taken her and Yves from a snow-covered mountain top to an Austrian airstrip. When she realized they were about to board the first plane, she had tried to reason with Yves. 

“We don’t need to go to Australia,” she had argued. “My family didn’t visit a diamond mine during our vacation there.” 

She now understood that last family vacation was what had triggered the destruction of the lives of everyone she loved.

Yves was undeterred by her protests. His voice had sounded as flat and tired as his dark brown eyes looked. “We must go if we ever want our lives back.” 

He had placed a hand on her back to nudge her into the cavernous fuselage lined with jump seats. While showing her how to buckle up, he explained that although Lucas’s family no longer owned the diamond mine, they had remained in contact with the new owners.

“It’s where the Rose Diamond originated,” he had said. “Lucas’s grandfather gave it to the Prime Minister of France when he toured the mine in the 1980s. When Lucas heard of Vincent’s plan to steal it, he talked us into helping him.” He shook his head. “What a mistake.”

Now, Yves placed his hand on her back again, this time to nudge her out of the plane and into yet another attempt at shaking loose memories of that fateful vacation. She didn’t believe they’d hidden it in Australia, and she shook off his hand to wrap her arms around herself.

“You’re still afraid of me?” He sounded hurt, and his crinkled-up face showed concern.





Karen Randau authors fast-paced stories with intricate plots, lots of action, and a dash of romance, all told from the point of view of a female amateur sleuth. The Kayla Walsh Mystery-Suspense Trilogy is her third series featuring strong, independent women. Previous series include the three-book Frankie Shep series featuring a modern-day female rancher in Wyoming, and the Rim Country Mystery series, featuring a woman who loses her husband in a movie theater shooting on their thirtieth wedding anniversary. She lives in the mountains of Arizona with her multi-generational family.


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